TWIN LAKES DELAY REJECTED
STEVE SCOTT, Pioneer Press
August 16, 2005
A Ramsey County district judge declined to halt Roseville's Twin Lakes redevelopment, instead rejecting a citizens group's request for further environmental review.
But Judge M. Michael Monahan, in a decision released Monday, allowed the Friends of Twin Lakes to pursue a portion of their suit against the city of Roseville and the developers. He refused to dismiss allegations that the proposed residential and retail development might violate the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.
If that portion of the suit goes to trial, the court would be asked to determine whether the project headed by the Rottlund Cos. poses significant environmental threats to the area surrounding Langton Lake.
The project's first phase, approved by the City Council, calls for 730 housing units, 221,000 square feet of office space and 330,000 square feet of shops and restaurants on 80 acres north and east of Cleveland Avenue and County Road C.
The site is mostly abandoned and partially contaminated industrial land.
Friends of Twin Lakes argued that key elements of the project -- including the addition of a large anchor retailer -- have changed considerably since an Alternative Urban Areawide Review was conducted in 2001.
The group said a broader Environmental Assessment Worksheet was now merited.
Monahan acknowledged the project includes 38 percent more retail, 136 percent more housing and 85 percent less office space than the proposal studied in 2001, but said the plan "fits within the general outlines of those assumptions."
He also rejected the group's claims that the project violates the city's Comprehensive Plan. Friends of Twin Lakes argued the Comprehensive Plan recommends against a big-box retailer and strip-mall development in that portion of the city and would need a four-fifths majority of the City Council to be amended. The Council has consistently adopted Twin Lakes motions on 3-2 votes.
Members of Friends of Twin Lakes say they plan to appeal the rulings on the environmental review and Comprehensive Plan.
Steve Scott may be reached at 651-228-5526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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